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Pawel Pawlikowski’s ‘Cold War’ Makes History for Poland

Alfonso Cuaron might’ve tied an Oscar record with four nods to his name for “Roma,” which scored 10 nominations overall. But another black-and-white film in a foreign language, Pawel Pawlikowski’s jazz-infused romantic drama “Cold War,” was honored with three Academy Award nominations Tuesday, the most in history for a primarily Polish-backed production.

The film will compete in the best foreign-language film and cinematography categories, while Pawlikowski earned a somewhat unexpected nomination for best director. (He won in that category at the Cannes Film Festival last year, where “Cold War” premiered.)

In a remarkable coincidence – beyond being foreign-language pics shot in black and white – both “Cold War” and “Roma” are drawn from the lives of the directors’ own families. “Cold War” is loosely based on the story of Pawlikowski’s late parents, musicians who met in post-war Poland and embarked on a tempestuous marriage.

“They’d be over the moon” with the film’s Oscar nominations, Pawlikowski told Variety in an e-mail, adding: “There’s always a note of sadness in moments like this. They died thinking I was a good-for-nothing anarchist.”

The auteur said he was surprised by his three Academy Award nods and attributed the film’s success to the depiction of both the love story at the film’s center and the geopolitical context in which it unfolded.

“It seemed that it was the combination of the story, the history, the image, the music and how it all worked together,” Pawlikowski said.

In its review, Variety called “Cold War” a “soberly moving study of the disappointment and insecurity that can blossom from supposed renewal: It’s a romance in which new beginnings and endings can be hard to tell apart.”

In a prepared statement, Pawlikowski thanked his producers, Tanya Seghatchian and Ewa Puszczyńska; the film’s “luminous star,” actress Joanna Kulig; and Amazon Studios, which has the film in the U.S. He also congratulated his cinematographer, Lukasz Zal, on his Oscar nomination.

Pawlikowski already owns one golden statuette: the 2015 Oscar for best foreign-language film, for “Ida,” about a war orphan who prepares to enter holy orders. The director acknowledged in his e-mail to Variety that, “by my standards,” he engaged in some Oscar campaigning in L.A. this time around.

But, he added, it was “not nearly as much as some.”

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